Not only does Kisses in the Nederends reflect on the importance of being at home with oneself and one’s body, but it extends to the home that is brought forth from one’s personal community and/or support system. Hau’ofa stresses the essence of varying perspectives throughout the novel and the importance of well-incorporated perspectives in forming and validating one’s homeland. In his interview and commentary at the end of the book, Hau’ofa reflects on the semi-autobiographical quality of the novel, specifically honing in on his experiences with an eccentric, yet loving support system. He observes: “Yet trough it all Oilei’s family and friends stayed by him, as mine stayed by me. They suffer and laugh with him, as mine did with me. These were some of the things I wanted to bring out.” (159). Although it may seem like Oilei is in this alone, every action or motion he endures is done so in an interactive process, a process that involved a new character. In turn, he is often affected or influenced by that character.
For example, Oilei establishes a different sense of home with himself and even with Rita after is session with Babu, the yogi. This is just one of many examples of how the different forms of healing work collaboratively to impact Oilei both physically as well as spiritually, socially, and emotionally. The post-Babu behavior example is probably the most pronounced in the novel. Immediately, the normative “home” life of Rita and Oilei has shifted. Oilei, up until this point in the book, had been marked by crudeness and an overall ill-mannered persona. They’re way of being functioned according to a standard of disorganization, a total lack of intimacy, and mutual disrespect. In chapter 7, Babu’s influence proves to have a hold on Oilei as his nasty persona dissolves and a sense of calm emerges in its place. In regards to Rita’s abrupt request of intercourse, he responds, “My dear Rita…we no longer use that word. It fogs the mind and stains the soul. You should have said, ‘Let us persuade our respective members to engage in the sacrament of love. That is the cleanest way of putting it’” (106). This shift is a great way of showing the influence the doctors and dottores have over Oilei’s whole person.
It is evident that Hau’ofa wishes this idea of allowing oneself to being open to being impacted is a huge theme in the novel. At the close of the novel, Hau’ofa implements physical imagery as a micro model of Oilei’s five-year long battle and the encounters that fueled his various medical experiences. Hau’ofa captures this theme in the following: “His arse had been preached at, prayed upon, exorcised, breathed into and out of, sung and danced. It had been exploded, jabbed, blown, hummed, needled, steamed, smoked, carved, discarded, transplanted, race-transformed, sex-changed, nosed and kissed back to life” (152). This really made me reflect on the commonly used metaphor, or physical representation of “scars” that is often implemented in spoken or written language to mean the emotional or spiritual hits that an individual has taken, whether due to a rocky childhood or let-downs and losses throughout adulthood. I also couldn’t help but think about how our encounters with others contribute to the existence of these scars. And perhaps not all scars are bad, persay, but in general, they are a great physical representation of an “inner” markup. It seems to me that in keeping with the concept of “the open body,” Oilei’s body would show physical scars that collectively represent his innerness—his moldability and breakability.
It speaks a great deal to me. I think that I feel more at home with myself as I continue to allow myself to be influenced by others. Additionally, I find it does leave “marks” whenever a new perspective or approach is introduced. I think “our scars” can really just be autographs of our loved ones, mentors, or lesser acquaintances: a sort of graffiti reading “I was here.”